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New Lens

by tolomea on February 2, 2012

And just a day after mentioning it here Ricoh finally released the zoom lens, 24-85 (35equiv) on 16mp APS-C. linky


Depth of Field

by tolomea on January 30, 2012

Depth of Field
GXR A12, 50mm (35equiv), ISO 400, 1/15s, f/2.5

As I mentioned sometime back, I acquired the 50mm APS-C module for my camera on this trip. The bigger sensor lets me play depth of field games and having just got the module I was keen to experiment.

Hopefully Ricoh finally bring out the previously announced APS-C zoom module soon.


Vegemite on Ice

by tolomea on August 1, 2011

Vegemite on Ice
GXR A12, 50mm (35equiv), ISO 200, 1/1000 sec, f/2.5

This one I like for the composition.

Incidentally these photos have been taken with the A12 50mm module which I purchased on this trip. This is module has an APS-C sensor (the standard size sensor for DSLR cameras) with a 50mm(35equiv) prime lens.
Prior to this I only had the P10 module which has a far smaller compact size 1/2.3″ sensor, coupled with a 28-300mm zoom lens.
Aside from generally better image quality especially in low light, the main advantage of the bigger sensor is the narrower depth of field which results in artfully out of focus backgrounds like you see here.



by tolomea on March 6, 2011


While stateside we tend to work much harder than usual. Stuck in silicon valley thousands of kilometers away from home and family there isn’t a lot to do aside from work, eat and sleep. However on the weekends it’s good to unwind a little by getting out of the valley and going sight seeing or walking.

On this particular trip we went for a hike in the Big Basin Redwoods State Park.

This here is a Redwood, they are kinda big.

Also on a kit note. This marks the point where I got my new camera, a Ricoh GXR with the P10 lens module. This is like a bigger more feature rich version of the CX-1 I was using. The optics however are essentially the same, it does have the slightly larger zoom and back lit sensor of the newer CX-3 but these are incremental improvements.


GXR P10 L bracket

by tolomea on October 30, 2010

GXR P10 L bracket

A new camera needs a new L-bracket.

Of course I’m so far behind on posting stuff that it’s all out of whack. The photos you are seeing at the moment are from June, I purchased the camera in August and it’s currently October.

I actually started the design for this back in August, but I haven’t been doing much panoramic stuff recently so I never finished it. However with an American holiday in the planning, I figured I should get this finished as lead times on 3d printing are often measured in weeks.

A couple of changes from last time, first I’m using Alibre design instead of Blender. The improvement here is fantastic. I have no beef with Blender, it’s just that Blender is not designed for this sort of work and Alibre is. I think I mentioned this before, but I first noticed Alibre because some guy was pimping it at Maker Faire, so congrats to him, +1 paying customer. Seriously if you are doing home brew CAD stuff check it out, $100 is incredibly cheap for a full featured parametric solid modeling system.

This bracket is going to be printed by Shapeways, as it turns out they are cheaper than my previous supplier. However even if they weren’t cheaper I would still be using them. Where the other 3d printing firms I’ve dealt with consider hobbyist stuff a waste of their time and effort Shapeways has explicitly embraced that market and I wish to encourage them.

I also have tentative plans for a ring light, however while I managed to pull the bracket off with just my calipers, I will need a far better model of the camera to make the ring light. I emailed Ricoh to see if they could provide something, but they weren’t even interested in considering the question. So now I need to find / buy a 3d scanner so I can make my own model.

Also since we are on the topic of kit and this post is already mega long by my normal standards… The Ricoh GXR 2011 roadmap is out. There’s only two modules on it but they are both interesting. First is a lens mount module with an as yet unspecified connector. I’m curious about this but reserving judgement until they announce the connector. The second module is an ~25mm to ~100mm zoom lens with an APS-C sensor. I’m buying that. I’ve been wanting to experiment with the bigger sensors for a while but have been put off by the lack of zoom and the lack of something in the 80mm range, this covers both.


New Camera

by tolomea on August 15, 2010

Pacific Ocean 2of2

I have a new camera, it’s a Ricoh GXR with the P10 module.

What I had previously was the Ricoh CX-1.

Since the CX-1 originally came out Ricoh have released two more CX cameras, the CX-2 and the CX-3. The CX-2 added a rear illuminated sensor which improved low light performance. The CX-3 increased the zoom range. Otherwise the 3 cameras are very similar.

Now the natural upgrade path for me would be the CX-3, however I felt a need to broaden my horizons, I wanted some more control over the shutter, aperture and exposure settings, the ability to experiment with a viewfinder and RAW format and perhaps a hotshoe flash. But of course I still wanted a compact camera that I could take with me everywhere.

Enter the GXR. The GXR is Ricoh’s main pro camera. It is an unusual beast. Unlike a DSLR where you can swap the lens, on the GXR Ricoh opted for a module approach where you swap the lens and sensor together as a module. And the third type module to be released, the P10, was a CX-3 lens and sensor.

Being a pro camera the GXR/P10 offers a number of things you don’t get on the consumer grade CX-3.

  • PASM modes for detailed aperture and shutter control.
  • RAW format.
  • Flash Hotshoe
  • Electronic Viewfinder

Of course the flip side is it’s bigger and costs more.

The money doesn’t bother me overly much but the size is a whole different matter.

The body size itself isn’t so bad, if it were just that it’d fit in my pocket just fine. However Ricoh have changed the lens assembly from the CX-3, it still has the same elements, however the rear elements are now fixed, this improves image quality and reliability at the expense of doubling the thickness when closed. Even at that it does fit in my pocket, but not well, so I’m going to get a belt pouch for it.


Tripod Comparison

by tolomea on May 14, 2010

   Modo Maxi 785B    190CXPRO3+324RC2
Max Height (column up) 150.5cm 156.1cm
Max Height (column down) 127.0cm 132.1cm
Minimum Height 17.5cm 18.1cm
Closed Length 43.5cm 68.1cm
Weight 0.98kg 1.72kg (327RC2 = 1.91kg)
Load Capacity 1kg 3.5kg (327RC2 = 5kg)
Leg Sections 5 3

The biggest differences here are that the new tripod is 5cm taller and can carry over three times as much weight. This comes at the expense of adding 75% to the weight and 50% to the closed size.

It’s worth mentioning the leg sections, everything else being equal less leg sections is better. More leg sections allow you to trade added weight and reduced strength for a smaller closed length. If you don’t need the smaller closed length they are just a hassle. There are twice as many locks on the legs of the old tripod, thats twice the time and effort every time I expand and collapse it.

On the load capacity front  the limiting factor is the head. I’ve included the heavier duty 327 RC2 for comparison. I have no intention of putting more than 3kg on the tripod, but if in the future I upgrade to an SLR I can replace the head and it’s less than 1/4 of the total cost.

Additionally there is benefit in having over strength tripod legs, 3kg on a tripod built for 5kg will be more stable than 3kg on a tripod built for 3kg. However this doesn’t apply to the head as the head doesn’t contribute much to instability (unless you over load it).


Tripods, new and old

by tolomea on May 10, 2010

Tripods, new and old.

On the kit front I have a new tripod.

There’s a bit of a story here…

For some time, as a thought exercise, I’ve been pondering the question of what would come after my current tripod. Don’t get me wrong here, my Manfrotto 785B Modo Maxi is a fantastic tripod that comes at an incredibly reasonable price considering it’s quality and pedigree. And I would strongly recommend it to anyone looking for a tripod for a compact, bridge or 3/4ths camera. Seriously, don’t buy any of that no name Chinese brand aluminium crap.

But that aside, it has become apparent that I could really use something a bit sturdier, essentially a bigger 785. Unfortunately such a thing doesn’t really exist. So for sometime I’ve been prowling the various manufacturer sites and forums trying to figure out what is most like a bigger 785.

Bigger more professional tripods come in two parts, the legs and the head. The leg side of the answer was easy, Manfrotto 190CXPRO. This is a strong but light weight tripod made from carbon fiber with magnesium fittings. These come in two varieties the 3 and the 4, the 3 is stronger and slightly lighter, the 4 folds up smaller. In the end I settled on the 3 as strength was one of my motivators.

The head was a much bigger dilemma. The 785 has an integrated trigger grip ball head, this is very rare. I’ve not used tripods with other heads much, but I have used them enough to decide that this is like the difference between optical and ball mice, once you’ve used the trigger grip head, you don’t go back.

There are (or were) precisely THREE trigger grip ball heads in the world. I tracked them all down in stores and tried them. I didn’t like the layout of the Silk or the Manfrotto 222, I’m sure they’d both be great on a monopod, but as a tripod user they didn’t do it for me. That leaves the Manfrotto 322, it’s quite a nice head but it also seems like serious overkill for my needs. It weighs 700g, that’s over half the weight of the legs, not that the weight is wasted, the thing is solid and chunky, it’d be fantastic for a big DSLR, but way more than I need.

Then in January Manfrotto released the 324 and 327. These are newer shinier versions of the 322. They are made from newer lighter and stronger materials. The 324 is optimized for weight and the 327 for load capacity. So that solves the head problem, Manfrotto 324rc2.

And that ends the thought experiment. A tripod like this is worth substantially more than my camera and my hobby just can’t justify an expense like that.

Or at least that was the case until Andrea suggest that 30th birthdays are special and deserve special presents :) The tripod of course is an automatic winner simply because of all the candidates it’s the one I’m most likely to still have with my 40th rolls around.


Entrance Pupil Correction

by tolomea on April 28, 2010

nodal point correction

First up the title is wrong, it’s actually entrance pupil correction, but everyone thinks it’s about the forward nodal point.

I’ve mentioned here a few times that I don’t correct for the entrance pupil location when taking panoramas and that this causes a variety of stitching artifacts whenever the panorama contains foreground and background elements.

Well today I’ve resolved that problem. I recently acquired a Giotto MH-656, Arca-Swiss style quick release bracket and plate off ebay at a quite reasonable price. The Arca-Swiss style plates interest me because they allow the position to be adjusted along one axis and the Giotto ones caught my attention because they have millimeter graduations marked on them.

I have installed this on top of the rotator, which now lets me adjust for the entrance pupil location.

In the picture from the bottom up we have:

  • The trigger grip head of my Manfrotto 785B tripod.
  • Manfrotto RC2 quick release system.
  • Nodal Ninja RD16 Rotator (the thing with the blue knobs on it).
  • Giotto Arca-Swiss style quick release system.
  • Manfrotto RC2 quick release system.
  • Custom L bracket for my Ricoh CX-1 (the white thing, the camera sits in there).

Between the top and bottom photos I have rotated the rotator by 60deg.

Between the left and right images I have moved the camera back by 25mm.

Currently I can only get the accuracy of the entrance pupil down to +-1mm, this is because I have a lot of flex through the head. I now have over 1kg of gear on top of it and it’s just not built for that. I have a tripod upgrade planned, but that’s a story for another day.

The observant will note that there are fully 3 quick release points in this setup. The RC2’s were there already, they serve two purposes. They let me remove the camera easily and they let me drop the whole rotator assembly out as the added weight is a serious nuisance when doing macro work. Long term I plan to drop the RC2’s in favor of a completely Arca-Swiss setup, that will allow me to drop one of the 3 quick release points.

P.S. The Giotto also has a couple of bubble levels in it which solves my long standing issue of not having a bubble level above the rotator.


R7 lens back and CCD

by tolomea on April 15, 2010

R7 lens back and CCD

There’s a lot going on in this shot so I’ll go through it in steps.

Once you get the camera out of the shell there are 3 main parts that hang together with a lot of wiring. These are the lens assembly, the control and battery assembly and the LCD.

When looking at the back of the camera, the cables have enough give to allow the LCD to be flipped over to the right so that it no longer covers the back of the lens assembly. In the photo the silver plate on the right is the shield on the back of the LCD.

You can then take the back off the lens assembly exposing it’s insides and the CCD. In the photo the black box on the left is the inside of the lens and the black plate to the right of it is the back cover of the lens assembly.

The back cover has been flipped over, the red looking square you see is the CCD.

Take note of those two spikes on the pack plate, they act as guides for the lens barrel. They make it basically impossible to get the back off while the lens is collapsed.

In the lens unit you can see the circles of the various nested barrels. Top left you can also see a floating lens element, there are actually two of these, one behind the other. When the lens extends those floating elements drop down into the optical path, that’s what the little motors on the front are for.

Also visible here is the main barrel drive motor, it’s in the top right hand corner of the lens assembly.

I went over it all and failed to find anything wrong, it just refused to do it’s thing in a variety of frustrating ways.